What is the Biden administration’s answer to a national teacher shortage? More competitive pay for teachers, not lowering the barriers to become a teacher.
As Politico reported, Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that competitive salaries could incentivize people to become teachers.
He said, “Unless we’re serious about providing competitive salaries for our educators, better working conditions, so that they can continue to grow … we’re going to constantly deal with shortage issues, especially in our areas that are harder to teach or where there are less candidates.” Cardona also said that teachers should have a voice in “reopening and reimagining our schools.”
The left-wing teachers’ union, National Education Association (NEA), claimed that the U.S. has a shortage of 300,000 teachers and school support staff (such as classroom aides) this year.
But Cardona and the teachers’ unions do not address how some school districts have increased pay in recent years, yet are still suffering significant teacher shortages. For the Biden administration’s obsessions with investigating the root causes of problems like illegal immigration, they do not have an answer on the root causes of significant labor shortage facing school districts.
One perspective, as Politico noted, is from Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. Sununu said that the “regulatory and permitting and certification processes” slowed down hiring and it requires “streamlining” to solve the labor shortage.
Many states, as part of their teacher certification process, require that prospective teachers have a four-year bachelor’s degree in education or a master’s degree in education. Then, these teachers have to pass at least one certification test, which is administered by education software behemoth Pearson.
For those who do not have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in education, the alternative paths are to enroll in accelerated teacher certification courses, which could cost several thousands of dollars to complete.
Certification does not guarantee competency or excellence in a profession, yet it is a significant barrier to people who want to transition to teaching. The lack of certification is why charter schools can find innovative teachers because there are less barriers to enter the teaching profession.
Cardona and the teachers’ unions should revisit the root causes of the teacher labor shortage and realize that eliminating these certification barriers could accelerate hiring.